How is a House Divided in Divorce?

20 December 2016

Dividing your house after you’ve decided to get a divorce can be one of the more complicated aspects of your separation. A house is usually the most valuable asset many people own and alongside the value of the property, there is often a strong emotional connection to the home.

Your first considerations should be to make sure that you have proper rights to your home. You should investigate how you own your property as soon as you decide that you are going to get divorced. This will make sure you remain protected throughout the divorce process.

The house will be owned either by one of you, both of you – in joint names or by someone else, such as a member of your family.

You may think that if your name is not on the Title Deeds that you have no right to any part of that property, but that simply isn’t the case. You should act quickly though to protect yourself.

House Owned in a Single Name

If the house is owned in your partner’s name, you may be in a position to register an interest in the property. The Land Registry deals with the Title Deeds of properties in England and Wales and most properties are registered.

Where the property is registered with Land Registry you can submit a form called a Home Rights Notice (HR1) to show your interest. You can get form HR1 here.

If, when you check the Land Registry website, you find that the property is not registered, you can still register your interest in it with the Land Registry with a Class F Land Charge. This does cost a small fee.

House Owned Jointly

There are two ways to own a property jointly. The first way is as Joint Tenants. This means you own the property 50/50 and when you die, your share of the property will pass to the other person, regardless of what your Will says.

The second way is as Tenants in Common. This allows a share in the property, either 50/50 or some other split you agree on. It allows you to choose what happens to the share of your property by leaving it to who you choose in your Will.

Before you get divorced, you may want to change how you own your house to help protect your share.

Options for Dividing a House in Divorce

So, what should you think about when you and your spouse want to divide your property after a divorce?

You have several options to consider. They are:

  • Sell your home and split the money
  • One of you buys the other out
  • Keep the home and both of you stay as owners. One of you stays in the property until the children have left school or are over 18
  • Transfer an interest in the home from one owner to the other. Even though they don’t live there anymore, they will get a share of the property value once it is sold.

If one of you decides to stay in the house, there are a couple of options to think about. They are listed above and involve either buying out your ex at the time of your separation, or continuing to share ownership until the children are old enough to leave home.

If you can’t agree on how to divide your home, the Court could decide for you but it makes much more sense for you both to work through the options and come to an agreement.

If you have children, you’ll both need to think about what is going to be best for your children. If you can’t decide, the Court will decide for you and when they make this decision, they will focus on what is best for your children.

The younger your children are, the more weight the Court would give on them having a suitable place to live with both of their parents.

Trying to minimise disruption in your children’s lives during the separation will be the best thing you can do. You can do this even if you do need to sell the marital home. You can do all you can to stay near to your child’s school and their friends and ensure that you agree regular contact with the non-resident parent.

Whatever you decide, it’s really important to get expert legal advice from a Family Law & Divorce Solicitor who can best advise you about all your options, and help to protect you once you’ve decided what to do.

More articles